Tag Archives: Al Madrigal

Dr. Feelbad


by George Wolf

For a movie about a guy with a serious taste for blood, Morbius shows hardly any of it being spilled. That’s just one of the reasons the film feels hamstrung from what it wants to be.

What Dr. Michael Morbius (Jared Leto) wants to be is healthy. Born with a strange DNA abnormality that paired a genius mind with a broken body, Michael put “Dr.” in front of Morbius at age 19 on the way to becoming the foremost expert on blood borne diseases.

And now, his research with vampire bats from Costa Rica has yielded a breakthrough…with a catch. He gets super human, downright monstrous powers, but they wear off without more servings of blood. And while he’s getting by with the artificial variety for now, Morbius knows the time is coming when only human blood will do.

So the clock is ticking, and not just for Morbius. His colleague Martine (Adria Arjona) is feeling the heat, while Milo (Doctor Who‘s Matt Smith, who seems to enjoy hamming it up), Michael’s childhood friend who suffers from the same DNA abnormality, is eager for the cure – and fine with the consequences.

Director Daniel Espinosa (Life, Safe House) has plenty of fun with the CGI, and while the facial morphing is mighty impressive, the increased battle sequences end up trending more toward soulless, Van Helsing-style gymnastics.

Abrupt editing does Espinosa no favors, either, and the pace that initially feels nicely brisk leads to a narrative that just seems impatient. Many of the themes at work here are common to comic book adaptations, but just checking off the boxes is no substitute for development.

Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (the duo behind Gods Of Egypt, The Last Witch Hunter and Dracula Untold – all dreadful) try to inject some humor via a pair of detectives (Tyrese Gibson and Al Madrigal) hunting the “vampire killer,” but what the script needs most of all is to take Milo’s advice.

Embrace what you are!

This Morbius seems too desperate to sit at the cool Spider-Man table right now, skirting the commitment to a more fully formed, standalone character that would only reap dividends down the road. And yes, sit tight during the credits for two extra peeks in that direction.

But come on, this is vampire stuff, right? Throw off those PG-13 shackles and really dig in! Go for the jugular, if you will. Man, that could have been a rush.

This isn’t.

School of Hart Knocks

Night School

by Hope Madden

The endlessly likeable Kevin Hart and the undeniably talented Tiffany Haddish join forces, which sounds like a solid plan except that Night School is a Kevin Hart movie, and when was the last time one of those was any good?

Sure, Jumanji had some laughs. In fact, Hart’s films almost always boast a few chuckles, mainly because of the actor’s infectious energy and self-deprecating humor. But they’re not good.

Neither is Night School which, even with Haddish and a handful of other proven comic talents, isn’t funny, either.

Hart plays Ted, a good-hearted hustler, talking big and spending bigger, pretending to be more than he is to compensate for his own insecurities. Of course he is, it’s a Kevin Hart movie.

Haddish is Carol, the overworked, underpaid night school teacher here to believe in Ted and the collection of losers in her class. It’s tough love, though, because Haddish is funnier when she’s mean.

What the film does well could have been packaged into an enjoyable 15-minute short. Hart gets off a few laughs working for a Christian fast food chicken joint, and the camaraderie among his late blooming classmates sometimes draws a giggle.

The actors portraying those night school chums work hard to establish memorable, funny characters with limited screen time and an even more limited script. Still, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Rob Riggle, Al Madrigal, Anne Winters and especially Romany Malco work wonders. Taran Killam amuses on occasion as the uptight principal with a grudge.

But there’s only so much they can do. Director Malcolm D. Lee (Girls Trip) drags every gag out about 8 minutes longer than necessary. The script, penned by Hart and five other writers, does Lee no favors. Even Haddish struggles to be funny with flat dialog and pointless, contrived physical comedy bits.

While you’re not laughing you might notice that Night School does make a few surprising choices. Its comedy is good hearted. This is a film that likes all its characters—the females, the losers, those with success and even the parents whose coddling and/or verbal abuse may or may not be to blame for the whole night school problem.

Those are small successes in a film that squanders a lot of talent and all of our time.